Dyssemia  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Dyssemia is a difficulty with receptive and/or expressive nonverbal communication. The word comes from the Greek roots dys (difficulty) and semia (signal). The term was coined by psychologists Marshall Duke and Stephen Nowicki in their 1992 book, Helping The Child Who Doesn't Fit In, to decipher the hidden dimensions of social rejection. These difficulties go beyond problems with body language and motor skills. Dyssemic persons exhibit difficulties with the acquisition and use of nonverbal cues in interpersonal relationships. "A classic set of studies by Albert Mehrabian showed that in face-to-face interactions, 55 percent of the emotional meaning of a message is expressed through facial, postural, and gestural means, and 38 percent of the emotional meaning is transmitted through the tone of voice. Only seven percent of the emotional meaning is actually expressed with words."<ref name=ND7>Nowicki, S. & Duke, M. (1992). Helping the Child Who Doesn't Fit In. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, p. 7.</ref> Dyssemia represents the social dysfunction aspect of nonverbal learning disorder.


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